Eat Local Challenge: stacked ratatouille salad with with fresh chevre and basil…

The “locavore” movement is not new by any means, as it has been particularly active and vibrant coast to coast both in the farming community and restaurant industry for years. Restaurateurs nationwide have committed themselves to only using ingredients grown typically within a 100 mile radius of their city of residence/operation, and supporting their local farming communities. In doing so, they are also raising political awareness over manufactured and imported foods and the toll they take on the environment. There are varying degrees of orthodoxy to this movement, some chefs/cooks committing themselves to every ingredient being local, others allowing themselves the luxury of “exotic” spices and seasonings like salt and peppercorn. It really is mindful cooking at its best and seasonally delicious. San Francisco is a leader in this restaurant movement, you can find restaurants in your area that maintain this focus at some of the websites below.

These are some websites that I love and follow:

www.eatlocalchallenge.com

www.locavores.com

www.localharvest.org

www.eatwellguide.org

www.supernaturalrecipes.com (I love Heidi Swanson, her cookbook Super Natural cooking is so inspirational…and beautiful)

Bon Appétit Management Company recently challenged its readers to create a menu made completely of locally grown ingredients, with the only exception being salt.  The criteria for locally grown in this challenge being goods grown or harvested within 150 miles of your home.  So, certain ingredients in Connecticut surfaced as particularly challenging; olive oil, any grain products including bread and pasta, sugar, and citrus.  Cooking vegetarian can be particularly challenging without grain products, no pasta, no crostini, no sandwiches, paninis….aye! This challenge was really fun to do, I highly recommend giving it a go where ever you live, have fun at the farmer’s markets and local farms, or in your own garden.

Here is the first recipe of my Eat Local Challenge menu.

Stacked ratatouille salad with fresh chevre and basil

Ingredients (serves 2):

4 tomatoes: Urban Oaks farm : 9.18 mi

1 white eggplant: Shenstone Gardens :19.75 mi

1 zucchini: Roses Berry Farm: 16.63 mi

basil: own garden: 4 tbs

2 Tbs butter: Smyth’s Trinity dairy farm: 27.02 miles

1 4 oz log chevre: Beltane farm: 41.11 mi

1 clove garlic: George Hall Farm: 12.03 mi

3-4 Tbs white wine: (Gentle Shepard): Jerram Winery: 17.21 miles

kosher salt to taste

Slice eggplant and zucchini thinly and lengthwise.  Slice summer squash in to thin coins.  Place in a large bowl, and salt generously to draw the water out. Let stand for 20 minutes and then strain and rinse.  In a large saucepan, melt 1 Tbs butter, add one smashed clove garlic and then toast zucchini, squash, and eggplant.  They should be nice and golden brown with a little crunch.  Slice fresh tomato into coins and mince basil.  Then stack eggplant, zucchini, squash, and tomato; crumbling fresh chevre in between each layer.

For dressing, quarter and slow roast 2 large tomatoes in an oven (or toaster oven) at 300 degrees for 20-30 minutes.  Place in small saucepan, add white wine, and reduce.  Add fresh basil and salt to taste.  Process in blender or food processor and drizzle over top of salad. Mince more basil for garnish and sprinkle over salad.

Eat together, toast to each other, and enjoy…local food!

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